Severe Economic Hardship (F-1 status only)

Under limited circumstances, an F-1 student may apply for off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship. Conditions creating this severe economic hardship include loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without the fault of the student, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and fees, and medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

To be eligible, a student must be in F-1 status for one full academic year and must be in lawful F-1 status. To obtain employment authorization based on severe economic hardship, students must file an application with the USCIS. In this application students must prove employment is necessary due to hardship caused by circumstances beyond their control that arose after obtaining F-1 status. If approved, the USCIS will issue the student an EAD (employment authorization document) that allows an F-1 student to work for up to one year. With this EAD, employment is limited to part-time (20 hours or less per week) during the fall and spring semester and may be full-time during summer and winter breaks.

Students must make an appointment to meet with their international student advisor for assistance with this application (call 910-962-3685). To this appointment, students must bring with them:

  • Completed USCIS form I-765, item #16 should read "(c)(3)(iii)" (PDF, External Link)
  • An unofficial transcript with your name on it (printed from SeaNet)
  • Copies of all immigration-related documents (passport, I-94, visa, I-20s)
  • An affidavit in which you explain the unforeseen circumstances that require you to seek employment authorization. Also explain why other employment options are insufficient.
  • Documents which support your claim (e.g., newspaper articles, bank letters, medical or hospital bills, accident records, etc.) Although it is important that you present your case thoroughly, do not exaggerate your situation. False or inaccurate statements or claims could damage your case.
  • 2 passport photographs (you can obtain these at Auxiliary Services for $8)
  • A check or money order for the I-765 fee (External Link)

Note: The student is responsible for submitting the application to USCIS and waiting for the EAD to arrive before beginning work.